November '15

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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Page 36 of 102

For example, as the fabrics most often used for retail styles have be- come softer and stretchier over the years, the demand for prints with a softer hand has risen. That same increase in demand has also posed some difficulty for both decorators and wholesale suppliers as they try to cater to the styles desired by end-users. The result is some initial guesswork with which types of decoration technology best suit each style and how well they will be received. These trial-and-error methods extend to every phase of the process, right down to when the product is being sold to poten- tial end users. At the end of the day, Seymour says, it's all about how the shop owners and end users react to the new styles and whether or not the former is able to work with them to their satisfaction. "If we get a positive response, that's when we really decide when to put it in the line and run with it," Seymour says. He adds, that it all comes down to connecting the different elements together; that retail influencers and promotional end users are in line and compatible. Recent advances in garment printing have also helped develop the available methods for retail-inspired lines, such as sublimation and direct-to-garment printing. Both allow for the soft-handed prints that have become popular over the past few years, to the ex- tent that it may feel like the print is not even there. They also allow for printers to use photo-quality images during the decorating pro- cess, which have become popular choices for end users. TRIED AND TRUE TRENDS Wholesale retail-inspired apparel was once a pretty standard market and rarely strayed from a select set of styles with heavy prints, su- per-bright colors, and thick material. The industry has adapted newer techniques recently though, with retail styles becoming increasingly visible in every corner of the wholesale market. Some members of the industry believe that this shift in influence has been most visible over the past few years alone. "In the past, every time 'wholesale apparel' came to mind, you would automatically think of the basic cotton staples," explains Ivy Mai of Kavio!, noting styles such as basic Ts, tanks, and sweaters, et cetera. "But, over the past five years, retail fashion has influenced the wholesale market in many ways." Men's and women's styles have also seen multiple changes over time. Even today, common retail-inspired elements can vary greatly between the two and will likely continue to do so over the next few years. This has not always been the case though. More recently, retail-influenced styles have begun to diverge into more masculine and feminine styles with increasing permanence be- tween each season for certain elements of the styles seen in retail. "For women, flowy and relaxed styles are here to stay. Women will continue to seek out flattering, draped silhouettes that exude a casual, cool-girl vibe," Thomas says. "For men's, we believe the long body T, currently trending in streetwear fashion, is going to be huge." RETAIL-INSPIRED APPAREL 32 || P R I N T W E A R N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 5

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